Aston Villa travel to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal in the Premier League on Wednesday night looking for a much-needed result.
Defeat to West Ham on Sunday ensured it’s now three losses in our opening four league outings this season, and so the pressure continues to build on Steven Gerrard and the players to end this poor run of form which dates back to the end of last season.
It doesn’t get any easier for us though with a trip to an in-form Arsenal in midweek before we host Manchester City on Saturday, and so it promises to be a difficult task to come away with anything against two sides fighting at the top of the table.
For Gerrard though, we could be entering a critical period. If the results don’t come, the very least he needs to show the Villa hierarchy is an improvement in our performances and some sense of identity and style of play.
If those are lacking once again in north London, it could raise more doubts over his future at Villa, having won just three of the last 15 games, and taking 12 points from a possible 45 available.
Mings a doubt, Coutinho available but changes needed
As per Gerrard in his pre-match press conference, Tyrone Mings will be assessed on Tuesday should he come through a full session having missed the defeat to West Ham due to illness.
Cameron Archer isn’t expected to feature due to a hip injury, although the Villa boss added that Philippe Coutinho was merely struggling with fatigue and cramp at the weekend having been forced off, and so the expectation is that he will be available to feature.
With that in mind, it’s likely that Ezri Konsa and Calum Chambers will continue in the heart of the Villa defence given that the pair are our only remaining fit centre-halves, with Lucas Digne and Matty Cash in the full-back positions and Emiliano Martinez between the posts.
Gerrard has shown a reluctance to drop John McGinn thus far and that could continue here as he’ll likely hope to lean on his tenacity and work ethic in midfield to give us a foothold in the game, while Boubacar Kamara will continue in the No.6 role.
However, Jacob Ramsey could come back in for Douglas Luiz as we need his running on and off the ball, as he could be a key threat on the counter attack for us with his ability to break with pace in possession.
Should Coutinho be rested, it’s hoped that Danny Ings is also benched for this one as going two up top didn’t work again on Sunday, and Ollie Watkins has shown with his work-rate off the ball coupled with his movement and pace, he can cause defences problems as a lone striker whereas Ings struggles in that role.
Leon Bailey and Emiliano Buendia should be given the nod, as their pace, movement and passing ability could be key in breaking Arsenal down on the counter attack as the feeling is that we’ll focus on a solid defensive display as a priority given our form and lack of confidence, and hope to hit them on the break with the attacking weapons that we have.
Time will tell if Gerrard opts for something similar or makes different changes, but Villa need to produce something this week otherwise he will undoubtedly face increasing pressure and calls for a change.
– Mings a doubt, Konsa-Chambers to continue?
– Think we need JJ's running for this one, especially on counter. Doubt McGinn will be dropped
– Feel focus will be solid defensively & hit them on break. Pace, movement & passing of Watkins, Bailey & Buendia key?#avfc #UTV pic.twitter.com/1GzHSG2MHa
— Talk Villa (@thetalkvilla) August 30, 2022